On 14 November, I attended Holman Fenwick Willan, with Chris, for a walk through of Holman Fenwick Willan’s application process.
It was nice to be back at Holman Fenwick Willan after attending an AS and Holman Fenwick Willan event earlier in November. On arrival, we saw a number of AS members already attentively listening in to Sarah Burson’s (Graduate Recruitment) advice. Sarah was thoroughly going through Holman Fenwick Willan’s graduate recruitment process and what our members should expect.
What is the right thing for me to write?
Sarah responded with “Put yourself in the shoes of the reviewer; think to yourself why you are being asked this question.” She also went on to say “Write about something that will spark an interesting discussion.”
“When applying for Holman Fenwick Willan you need to get your applications in as early as possible even though we recruit on a rolling basis. Ideally I would aim to get your applications in before the end of December.” Sarah Burson
Another key question that was covered was,
How would you speak about your extra-curricular activities and your main interests?
“One of the things we are looking for is ‘well-rounded individuals,’ be as explicit as possible on how the things you have done have been able to help you to build relevant skills.” Sarah Burson.
“Be realistic with your experience.” Chris White
“Use the STAR format when speaking about your experiences and transferrable skills.”
- Situation: the context for your example
- Task: what was required of you
- Activity: what you actually did
- Result: how well the situation played out
Sarah covered every angle, particularly focussing on ‘Why have you chosen to apply for Holman Fenwick Willan?’
“At this stage, you should know if the firm is practising in the area you are interested in. You should know our practice areas and the size of the firm, as well as recent deals or commercial stories that may impact Holman Fenwick Willan.” Sarah Burson
Chris stepped in to highlight, “If you don’t reference what you learnt from Trainees/Partners at talks such as this, or other events and relate it to why this has informed your choice, being here right now at Holman Fenwick Willan would be pointless. You should be driven by what you have learnt over these last few hours and incorporate this into your applications.”
Moving into the next step of Holman Fenwick Willan’s application process was to look at interviewing. Sally Buckley (Senior Associate in Shipping Dispute Resolution) and Mark Gammon (Senior Legal Executive in Aerospace) were here to supply hints and tips.
What really impresses you when applicants come to interview?
“When you see candidates who have done homework on the firm, that is key. Providing a good idea of where georgraphically we operate and what sectors we operate in is important. Although you may have your preferences, it is also good to show a rounded interest in other areas of the firm.” Sally Buckley.
Mark Gammon also suggested, “I look for someone who is engaged, and can show enthusiasm for the firm. It’s not just about you impressing us, we need to impress you guys; when I can see a candidate who is engaged and wants to know about the firm and what we are involved in, as well as the type of cases we have personally worked on, that shows a genuine interest to me. ”
What common mistakes do you see in interviews?
Sally: “When candidates haven’t come prepared, they don’t ask questions, this shows limited commitment. Not thinking their responses through and being afraid of silence is also an important mistake people make.”
Mark: “Not asking enough questions, it doesn’t have to be a deep question, it could be a general question that will show how much you have thought this interview through.”
One of the last questions Mark and Sally covered was the very popular subject of commercial awareness. I also posted this question live on Facebook which is why it’s good to follow us on Facebook @aspiringsolicitors!
What is your take on commercial awareness and its meaning and how can someone show this in an interview?
Sally: “Some of the key things you can do is know where Holman Fenwick Willan sits within the market. Have a knowledge of our competitors – Legal 500 is a good source.”
Mark: “You should also look at our client base and where they sit within their industry and identify the challenges and opportunities they will face within their global markets.”
After the interview session, it was time to move into the group exercise. Members were split into groups; and immersed themselves straight into the task. It was great to see such a detailed event, that encouraged and developed our members. Today’s event was well-structured and a great success.
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